As the 2019/2020 summer farming season is fast approaching, one cannot but wonder whether or not they will produce, sell and make a profit.
There are issues to consider in trying to answer the question on whether one will prosper in the coming summer cropping season. First and foremost, farmers who rely mostly on rain fed agriculture should look at the seasonal forecast. Will it be safe for them to plant their seed in the ground with expectations that the heavens will be generous enough to release enough rains?
In the month of September, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement: Hon. P. Shiri, in his announcement of the seasonal forecast indicated that the first part of the rainy season, October, November and December, the greater parts of the country will receive normal rainfall with a bias towards above normal.
“Rainfall outlook for the October to December 2019 period is as follows: Harare, much of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Matebeleland, North Eastern parts of Midlands, most of Manicaland provinces and some parts of Manicaland, normal rainfall with a bias towards above normal,” said Hon. P. Shiri.
“Masvingo, the bulk of Midlands, the extreme southern parts of Manicaland and the bulk of Matebelaland South should expect normal with a bias towards below normal,” he said.
Outlook for the January to March 2020 period forecasts that, “…All areas should expect normal rains with a bias towards below normal”.
With the forecasted predictions, farmers should be careful in their seed variety selection, paying particular attention to the best varieties that suit their environment as well as considering the rainfall outlook.
“We encourage farmers to plant as soon as possible after receiving 25mm of rain for three consecutive days, if they do not have irrigation, it is advisable that they plant early maturing varieties as well as developing moisture management measures such as conservation agriculture practices We also advise farmers to look out for the 10 day weather forecasts to guide day to day farm operations,” said ZFU crop specialist, Simbarashe Muchena.
Farmers should take farming as a serious business, thus the decision to get into a production should be based on a production budget. For example, recently the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) advised that the government increased producer prices for maize, and small grains namely sorghum, millet and rapoko to RTGS 4 000/ tonne up from RTGS 2 100.
Considering the current maize production cost structure which stands at around RTGS19.200 per hectare, the current producer price from GMB pegged at ZWL 4000/ tonne, entails that a farmer would need to do at least 6 tonnes / hectare for them to realise profits.
This therefore means that farmers should ensure they religiously implement good agronomic practices so that they realise maximum yields.
Farmers can get crop budgets from Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union offices at a discounted price for members.